Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Response From a Priest to My Post, "Dear Father, Deacon, and Anyone Else Who Has Ever..."

I got some wonderful comments on Wednesday's post and today a priest friend of ours left a comment, too. His comment deserves its own post. 


I know and love Fr. Scott but there is no bias in my recommendation that you read his comment. It's just that he's a wonderful priest with valuable insights. His thoughts are always worth reading.

Second disclaimer:

We never deliberately plied him with pie. We just like pie.

In response to the post, Fr. Scott said this:

A great post, as always! This one’s stuck with me for a few days. 
Speaking only for priests, I wonder if I can offer a suggestion to those who have posted comments. Priests are guys. We’re almost always unmarried and almost always have no experience with fertility beyond what we read or from the people we encounter. We are pro-life, pro-family people. Think, though, what most unmarried non-fathers know about fertility—almost nothing. Think about how couples are different the second time that they are pregnant from the first time. Experience gives perspective and understanding. We don’t generally have either. In particular, young priests are zealous and excited about being priests, but they've got a lot to learn and in a lot of areas. Most of their friends are their age, too, and with couples often putting off even the desire for children later and later, young priests often don’t know many people who have lost children or struggled to get pregnant. If they do, this subject is only recently something people seem to talk about, and often not something people bring up to us. What we rely on is experience gathered from people around us. It doesn’t take long, I don’t think, to see how so many people struggle with fertility and pregnancy, but we need time and experience to see this. So, here’s my suggestion. Just tell us. But, don’t do it right after Mass or in passing. Like everyone else, we receive criticism better when we trust the people giving it. Invite us over for dinner, ply us with coffee and pie, and then bring it up. We become priests because we want to be involved in the lives of the people around us, so involve us (and I reemphasize the pie...).  
In my own experience, the early friendships I made as a priest were incredibly formative. Luckily—and gratefully—people had the goodness to do exactly what I’ve suggested. As a result, I treasure those friendships, in general, and the trust they give, in particular. In short, my friends who have been willing to share their struggles with me and let me share my struggles with them, have helped me to learn how to be a better priest.  
As it turns out, Atticus makes a killer coconut cream pie. 

Thanks, Fr. Scott, as always. For everything.


Maureen said...

Great response -- things we married folk need to be thoughtful of. Thank you Father.

sarah said...

What a wonderful comment, reminding us to be open to each other.

I remember the day I was teaching a class in our homeschool co-op and a priest walked in. He wore a long black cassock and looked so much like a priest - a little scary, actually; a little otherworldy. The lovely homeschooling mother he'd come to see gave him a big hug, and instantly my view of him changed from a powerful figure to a young man who was so very glad to be welcomed. This comment you have shared does the same thing for me: reminds me to open my eyes and my heart and look for the real person infront of me.

Fr. Scott said...


Thanks for such a nice post. You made my day! Thoughts and prayers from far away!

Karen Edmisten said...

Maureen, yes, I love it when the reminders all around are so thoughtful and charitable.

Sarah, what a beautiful little story to illustrate the breaking down of assumptions and first impressions.

Fr., thoughts and prayers to you/for you as well!

Anonymous said...

Karen, thank you for these posts. I am glad you are out here talking about it, because some of us struggle to share our experiences.

And Fr. Scott, your comments are such a good reminder. My husband and I have many more children entrusted to the Lord than here beside us on earth. We do try to let our priests know our family's story, but it can be difficult if it is someone we are just meeting in passing. Thank you for the reminder. I see more pies in my future. :)

Karen Edmisten said...

Anonymous, thank you for taking the time to comment. You're right that it's harder when the comments or the assumptions are made in passing but I guess all we can do is keep trying to make others more aware of the many "unseen large families" that exist. :)

And we can keep making pie. :)